Momus - The Little Red Songbook

American Patchwork
(AMPATCH024: 708527190753)

Release date: 12/6/2019.
Also available on CD.

A digital reissue of Momus' album Little Red Song Book, originally released November 1999 on Le Grand Magistery.

The record that best defines Momus' self-described "analog baroque" phase, The Little Red Songbook plays up his longstanding obsession with Serge Gainsbourg's dark humor and lascivious persona, placing it in a bed of lilting, unpredictable, and classically influenced melodies. The instrumentation is minimalist, usually employing only harpsichord, analog synth, bass sampled from a Nintendo GameBoy, and drum tracks from a cheap keyboard -- an odd blend of classicism and kitschy futurism. The arrangements are often more layered than they sound at first, thanks to Momus' skill as a producer, but the resulting Vivaldi-meets-Kraftwerk sound still has an artificial, inorganic, low-budget feel. Not only is that intentional, but it perfectly fits the wry detachment of many of the album's tales of sexual manipulation; while some songs' observations are cultural rather than sexual, The Little Red Songbook is overall one of Momus' most explicitly vulgar records. However, its bluntness doesn't mean that the concise lyrical vignettes aren't clever -- the list of "Everyone I Have Ever Slept With" turns into a rambling awards show speech, and "Coming in a Girl's Mouth" spends most of its time pondering the symbolic meaning of that act, not just its physical realities. In fact, the subject matter's clash with Momus' "cultured" chamber-pop appropriations makes for a compelling tension. It's equally possible to hear this as sophisticated pop with a conscious affectation of elegant, high-class decadence, or as an intentionally trashy, dirty way of subverting the pomposity of music and literature regarded as "high art," skillfully using its own forms against it. Either way, it's unabashedly self-referential, morally dubious, and scathingly funny -- in other words, everything a great latter-day Momus album should be. The album ends with instrumental "karaoke versions" of nine of its songs, which were used in a record-your-own-Momus-parody contest (the winning entries appeared on Stars Forever). [Note: Legal objections forced the removal of one of the album's songs; when The Little Red Songbook was reissued sans the offending track, there were three short new songs included as a substitute. - Steve Huey, All Music Guide

1. Old Friend, New Flame 2:05
2. MC Escher 2:31
3. Who Is Mr Jones? 2:09
4. Harry K-Tel 2:05
5. Lucretia Borgia 2:50
6. How To Spot An Invert 1:42
7. Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 2:43
8. Born To Be Adored 4:14
9. Coming In A Girl's Mouth 1:34
10. What Are You Wearing? 5:32
11. The New Decameron 1:43
12. The Symphonies Of Beethoven 4:13
13. Tragedy And Farce 2:38
14. Miss X, An Ex-Lover 2:09
15. A White Oriental Flower 4:49
16. Some Mistranslations 2:02
17. The Ugly Sister 1:04
18. Welcome To My Show Trial 6:03
19. Old Friend, New Flame (Karaoke Version) 2:39
20. Tragedy And Farce (Karaoke Version) 1:46
21. The New Decameron (Karaoke Version) 1:36
22. Coming In A Girl's Mouth (Karaoke Version) 2:10
23. Miss X, An Ex-Lover (Karaoke Version) 2:07
24. Harry K-Tel (Karaoke Version) 2:20
25. Who Is Mr Jones? (Karaoke Version) 2:18
26. How To Spot An Invert (Karaoke Version) 1:44
27. The Symphonies Of Beethoven (Karaoke Version) 4:07

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